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Quick Strikes: Mitch Marner’s agent responds strongly to Auston Matthews’ new contract

The Toronto Maple Leafs winger threw himself in the spotlight.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPA, FL - MARCH 20: Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Brayden Point #21 of the Tampa Bay Lightning fight for the puck during a game at Amalie Arena on March 20, 2018 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Bolts

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost 3-2 to the Vegas Golden Knights in the shootout, their first shootout loss of the season. Shoutout to Matt for playing hurt in this game, mad respect. [Raw Charge]

The Lightning struggled to establish any kind of pace during this game. They had small spurts during the first two periods, but largely, this game was dictated by Vegas. Tampa Bay relied a bit too much on their special teams and goaltending this evening and it ultimately bit them. These games happen, so, there isn’t too much to be upset about. Well, aside from the Sergachev-Coburn pairing being scorched on two goals, but you have to take the lumps when they come along.

Louis Domingue has been winning a lot of games. In fact, he’s tied a special franchise record in the process. [Raw Charge]

With his win Saturday night over the New York Rangers, Louis Domingue matched a Tampa Bay Lightning record. He has now won nine decisions in a row matching the feat set by John Grahame in the 2005-06 season and Andrei Vasilevskiy in 2017-18. What’s interesting about it is that he has done it as the back-up while the other two were the starters for the Lightning.

This isn’t exactly Bolts related, but this week’s 31 Thoughts column provides a lot of insight into what the evolving world that is player-team contract negotiations. [Sportsnet]

The Maple Leafs knew that. And other teams trying to sign their own restricted free agents knew that. It was frustrating for those clubs, because the players (and agents) would say, “Let’s see what happens with Nylander.” When that was done, they’d say, “Nah, we’ll wait.” It was almost as if each player/agent was waiting for someone to go first.

The Prospects

The Syracuse Crunch won twice over the weekend, ending an incredible homestand. They now go on the road for five in a row. Hopefully the magic gets loaded on the bus. [Raw Charge]

Isn’t so much fun when the Syracuse Crunch win? Due to the All-Star break, they only played two games last week, but they won them both (rather convincingly) and continued to keep pace with the league-leading Rochester Americans. Carter Verhaeghe continued his recent hot streak, and the power play shook itself off a little as they converted twice against the Cleveland Monsters in a comeback win.

Carter Verhaeghe also earned AHL player of the week honours as a result of a big six-point week.

The Game The Mitch Marner Saga (that’s just beginning)

By now, I’m sure everyone here has heard about Auston Matthews and his brand new five-year extension he just signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

What you may not know is that throughout Matthews and William Nylander’s negotiation, and now beyond them, Mitchell Marner’s camp has been mouthy and rude.

Seriously.

First, it was an Athletic feature that came out two weeks after Nylander signed his extension starring Marner’s dad, Paul, who began the narrative that Marner has always been undervalued. Leafs Twitter did not take kindly to it, heavily questioning why this story was being written as no one was offering the other side of the “argument”. [The Athletic]

“I’ll just be honest with you,” Mitch’s dad said. “It drives our family nuts when we hear you guys all talk about who should be the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Mitch never hardly gets any consideration. It’s because he’s like this happy-go-lucky little kid.”

Paul Marner deleted his Twitter account within a day of this article going live as a result of the backlash and fans pleading to not ruin his son’s legacy in Toronto. (It must also be said that the Marners are infamous in the Ontario Hockey League and all their lower minor leagues for their ruthless, and at times problematic, support of their son).

Now, the talk is coming through the player’s agents and media connections. Namely agent Darren Ferris and TSN “insider” Darren Dreger.

One of the Darrens, this one being Dreger, has been all over the TSN networks reporting the narrative of the Marner camp: that Mitch is worth every penny Matthews gets, and that he’s going to sign an offer sheet.

Then last night, The Toronto Star’s notorious columnist Dave Feschuk (who we’ve taken to task on this site before) dropped an interview with Ferris, putting the rumours and hardball intentions onto paper.

Now, one can argue that the agent is just doing his job. Ferris is selling his client through the use of leaking negotiation information and moving the goal-posts of public perception in order to win the most money. Marner is fully within his right to do so. But beyond the propaganda, there appears to be no indication that Kyle Dubas and the Maple Leafs have been dealing in bad faith, so this isn’t a reciprocation.

The Leafs haven’t had a track record of starting a media war with either of their other big contracts. The Nylander negotiation was among the most tame and respectful contract discussion we’ve seen in recent memory (as long as you ignore the debunked narratives by the mainstream media). Matthews’ was done in about two weeks.

The Leafs have also given every indication that they are willing to make the hard choices in order to keep their salary cap pyramid standing. If Marner is threatening signing offer sheets and going to the radio and print media to whine that the team doesn’t repsect him, then he shouldn’t be surprised if this all comes back to bite him. If he wants to be a Leaf for a long time, this isn’t the way to show his fans and his bosses. Just saying.

Bob McKenzie of TSN had a great thread explaining everything that has been affected due to the Auston Matthews contract, including what it might mean for other pending RFAs of his echelon. Here is the beginning, I suggest reading all of it.

The Game

Things are falling apart in Edmonton. The fans are (finally) revolted with their voices and their wallets. [Sportsnet]

This was the third consecutive game in which Edmonton had led in the third period, only to lose [to the Chicago Blackhawks]. In weekend games at Philadelphia and Montreal, the Oilers dropped games in overtime, but on a freezing cold Tuesday at home, they rewarded a crowd that had ventured through minus-30 temperatures with a complete fold-down, giving up four goals in 2:48 of the third period.

As society has evolved and become more inclusive to those who felt at the fringes, hockey has not. Here is the sad story of a gay semi-pro goaltender who loved a sport that didn’t love him back. (Insert stories of Wayne Simmonds, Devante Smith-Pelly, Akim Aliu and PK Subban getting abused throughout their careers). [CBC Sports]

“I had kids telling me they like writing poetry,” he remembered. “One kid said he loved watching animal documentaries. … They’re hiding this from their teammates. They want to fit in, just like I hid my sexuality to fit in. And they’re unhappy doing it.”

Meanwhile, CBC ran a story on the same day outlining the events of a sexual assault survivor being shamed on the ice of a Nova Scotia university game, leading to a massive and violent brawl. [CBC Sports]

A player and his coach say the shaming of a sexual assault survivor is what sparked an intense brawl between the two Nova Scotia university men’s hockey teams during a game in Wolfville, N.S., on Saturday, but the other team disputes this.

Studnicka said a comment was made to him by a member of the Axemen during the third period of the game. He said he told Peddle, who addressed it with the on-ice officials and the head coach of Acadia.

Former Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya is going back to Thailand to play hockey with the locals. [Second City Hockey]

“Four in the morning, Oduya said, ‘Murray, find the trophy for me. I never had a trophy before,’” Murray said laughing. “He was so happy. It was so funny to watch this guy win the tournament. The last thing I remember is he had broken the handle and was staggering out with the trophy. We still don’t know where the trophy is.”

Nikita Kucherov reveals that he doesn’t like pizza. While this is incredibly disappointing to pizza lovers everywhere, I think we can all agree to overlook this transgression given the fact he now has 81 points in 53 games.